Best Of 2020

The Best of St. Louis in the Worst of Times

We used to linger places — quiet bars, buzzing Mexican restaurants, the occasional Cardinals game on nice nights.

Among the thousands of ways our lives have changed in the past seven-plus months is that those careless hours, even careless moments, have become rare. It became necessary to prepare for trips to the grocery store, if we're even going at all. Even questions as mundane as whether to stop for a gas station coffee have turned into a risk-reward calculation.

Far worse things have happened during the pandemic, as the daily tally of the newly dead will tell you. But the unhurried between times are not insignificant. An after-work drink with friends at the end of a bad day or the concert tickets that gave us something to look forward to were our release valves.

One thing COVID-19 has shown us is how badly we need those diversions. As a result, we've developed a new appreciation for the small joys still available — and the creativity and toughness of a St. Louis that continues to find the bright spots. That's what this issue, The Best of St. Louis in the Worst of Times, is about. It's part survival guide and part celebration of the many, many ways that the metro continues to lift us up. Here's to the chefs and shop owners who retooled on the fly to keep the lights on while offering services we want and need, to the activists who continue to fight for a better world, to all the spots built into this city that give us an outlet to enjoy ourselves and stay safe.

Not all of the 107 items in this issue are about the good — our Best Local Boy and Girl Gone Bad categories have been combined to accommodate a newly prominent pair of St. Louisans, for example — but ultimately our annual Best of St. Louis edition is about all the amazing parts of our home. It's about reclaiming those lost moments of fun. And fun is more important than we ever knew.

— Doyle Murphy